The Sounds of Wonderland
What does an odd, alien, yet wondrous world ... unlike anywhere on the surface
of the Earth ... sound like? It's a question we were dying to see answered and
now, thanks to Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, we have two very different
Alice in Wonderland opens this Friday, March 5 this movie is
an overwhelming treat for the eye, especially if you can catch it in 3D. And,
thanks to composer Danny Elfman's lush score, it's a treat for the ear as well.
Danny has been a frequent collaborator with "Alice" director Tim
Burton, but even so, he says, this film was something unusual. "On this
film in particular, Tim told me almost a year ago that this was going to be
the craziest roller-coaster ride we'd ever taken together. There was a point
halfway through where he had me visit the set, because I've done that on all
of his films. This time I visited the set and there was Mia [Wasikowska, the
film's Alice] on wires, and a green screen. He warned me 'there's nothing about
what you're going to see that's going to help you' and he was absolutely right!
Everything came together at the very end. I was determined to roll with it,
and that's the best thing to do with Tim's films. We try a lot of different
things and experiment, and just roll with it."
So, how did Danny find an aural equivalent for Wonderland? He laughs, "I
find myself in alien worlds a lot! Many of the worlds in Tim's films are alien
worlds in one way or another." Fans of Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before
Christmas [will] remember how Danny brought Halloweentown to life in music
perhaps Wonderland isn't such a stretch (although the two scores don't
sound at all alike).
Although the Alice in Wonderland score is richly orchestral and graced
with choral voices, there is one unforgettable moment where it deviates from
that sound people are sure to leave the theater buzzing about the scene
in which the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) dances the "futterwack." We
won't say another word about it, except to tell you that it brings down the
house! "It was crazy!" Danny says with a grin. "I wrote all different
kinds of pieces for Johnny's futterwack dance and I came up with that
one on the last day. Tim wanted something funky, and that's what he got!"
For a completely different musical version of Wonderland, there's Buena
Vista Records' "Almost Alice" album or perhaps we should say
"16 completely different versions," for each song on the album was
performed by a different musical artist. Only one of the songs, Avril Lavigne's
"Alice," can be heard in the movie itself (it plays over the end credits)
the album is not a literal tie-in to the film. The idea, according to
Buena Vista Records, was to let modern rock and alternative artists loose to
play with the musical and cultural influences of "Alice in Wonderland."
The results run the gamut from Robert Smith's quirky take on "Very Good
Advice" (the only song on the album that's a remake from the soundtrack
of Disney's 1951 "Alice in Wonderland") to the cheerily ethereal "The
Technicolor Phase" by Owl City but they all have that touch of Wonderland.
Devoted indie fans will find some of their favorite artists here, and it's a
great chance for music lovers to try a wide variety of songs from up-and-coming
It seems that no one sound can fully capture Wonderland but all of them